Israeli equestrians improve skills in western Colorado
It’s not just the landscape of the United States that is larger than Ronny Goldstein’s native Israel, she said Tuesday. “The cars are big. The food is big. Everything is big.”
Also, she said, “There’s a lot of good horses.”
“It’s very exciting,” added Rachel Mizrachi.
The quality and quantity of horses is important to Goldstein, Mizrachi and their colleagues because members of their group are in this country to compete in international quarter horse shows.
“They want to ride with as many different trainers and ride as many different horses as possible,” said Sue Kapushion of Whitewater, who with her husband, Marvin, hosted four Israeli equestrians and the parent of one of them last week. The group left Wednesday to compete at American Quarter Horse Association Youth World Championship in Oklahoma, before returning to Israel. Earlier, they competed at The AQHA Youth World Cup in College Station, Texas.
The Kapushions, who train and show quarter horses, and also judge quarter horse shows in the United States and internationally, learned from fellow judges that the Israeli team would be visiting Colorado between the two shows and looking for host families and riding facilities.
Most of the Israeli team spent the week on the Front Range, but coach Mizrachi brought two young riders, Renen Hayman and Eden Mazrafi, to Whitewater to ride and train with the Kapushions. Goldstein, who at 19 is too old for the youth competition, came along to provide additional assistance and support, as did Hayman’s father.
European style equestrian activities have long been a part of the Israeli horse scene. In fact, Goldstein grew up competing in show jumping.
However, for a number of years, quarter horse competition attracted many Israeli riders, Mizrachi said. The Israel Quarter Horse Association offers the most opportunities for teens and children, she said.
Israeli riders compete in nearly all of the equestrian disciplines that U.S. quarter horse riders do, Sue Kapushion said. Those include Western pleasure, reining, showmanship and English classes. However, Israelis generally don’t compete in classes that involve cattle, such as cutting-horse classes.
At the Youth World Championships next month in Oklahoma, Hayman plans to compete in showmanship and horsemanship classes, while Mazrafi will compete in Western pleasure classes.
The current turmoil between Israel and Hamas is not something the young equestrians can ignore. When they return to Israel later next month, Goldman will soon be called upon to complete her mandatory military term that all young adults in Israel must serve. Mizrachi, 24, has already served two years, but could be recalled to service if conditions warrant it.
For now, however, they are all excited to be in the United States, preparing for competition and learning as much as possible.
“We rode for six hours on Monday, swapping horses and riders,” Sue Kapushion said. “They just wanted to keep going.”
There was one other thing the Israelis found big here: the generosity of American horse people.
“We’ve been with many host families here, and they’ve all been very nice,” Goldstein said.